Steel casting is a newer technology than the traditional steel making technologies historically used to make tools. Casting steel did not become common or economic until the last hundred years. This restricted the design and performance of edged tools and weapons to shapes that could be forged by hand. Cast in Steel is a new competition sponsored by Steel Founders’ Society of America to challenge students to creatively use the steel casting process to design and make a high performance tool.

The SFSA Schumo Foundation is sponsoring the first Cast in Steel Competition for the 2018-2019 school year. This competition is focused on the use of modern tools like computer modeling, alloy development and selection, additive manufacturing; to design and produce a functioning cast Viking Axe. Each entry will include not only a functioning Viking Axe to be tested, it will include a technical report documenting the design and manufacturing process. Each Viking Axe must have a cutting edge of 6 to 12 inches with a handle 18 to 30 inches. The entries will be judged by Master Foundrymen and Lifetime SFSA members. The evaluation will include chopping and sharpness tests similar to those seen in the History program, Forged in Fire *Note*.


Teams for competing in the Cast in Steel competition must include:

  • At least two university students
  • A Faculty advisor
  • A commercial steel foundry (SFSA will recruit for interested teams)


The project for this competition is a Viking Axe

  • A functioning Viking Axe is to be provided for testing. At least 80% of the final axe head shape should be attributable to the casting process
  • A description of the product features including the historical design that qualifies it as a Viking Axe
  • A technical report describing the design and production which can include:
    • Rationale behind the design
    • Alloy and processing to get properties
    • Production processing used
    • Description of the manufacturing
    • Test results for the quality and properties
    • Modeling for process and performance
    • Video clips or presentation
  • Successful testing of the submitted axe
    • Sharpness and edge durability in chopping
    • Robustness as weapon
  • SFSA will own all submitted technical data package and viking axe. If your team would like to have your axe back after the competition, let us know and we will consider your request.


  • Report and Viking Axe due April 8, 2019
  • Submit final report to Raymond Monroe (
  • Ship the Viking Axe to SFSA:
    Steel Founders' Society of America
    780 McArdle Drive Unit G


  • Competition will be judged by panel of steel experts selected by SFSA
  • The performance testing and awards presentation will be held in conjunction with the AFS Cast Expo. Performance testing of the axes will be done at Treehouse Studios, 642 North Ave NW (~1.3 mi from Georgia World Congress Center) on April 26, 1PM. Awarding ceremony will be at the Georgia World Congress Center Room A404 on April 27, 4PM. All teams are encouraged to attend.


Prizes are awarded to a student engineering group of the winning team's choice.

There will be 2 grand prizes of $2000. Special prizes may also be awarded.

  • Best in Engineering Design: Panel of steel casting experts will review and judge the submitted technical report.
  • Best in Performance: Viking axe will be tested for durability and sharpness. Performance testing will be on April 26 in Atlanta, GA. A panel of experts will evaluate the performance of each axe.

Can one school form more than one team?

What would be the maximum number of students in a team?
I would think anything over 5 would be too many, and forming multiple teams would allow more hands-on participation.

Will the axe heads be cast at a commercial steel foundry, or will we be casting them in-house?
You are free to cast them either in-house or at a partner steel foundry.

If we have a foundry in our university, do we still need to have a foundry partner?
Yes, even if your team plans to cast the axe at your university foundry, you still need to work with a foundry. All teams are required to have a foundry partner for technical guidance and support.

What does the blade length requirement of 6 to 12 inches correspond to?
It is the length from one tip to the other tip of the blade (not the length along the curvature of the blade)

Will we be expected to sharpen the axes in-house?
Yes, we are trying to evaluate their performance like the show, Forged in Fire.

Is there a physical competition, or will we be shipping the axes?
You will ship the axe to us (SFSA). We will have the judging and competition in Atlanta on April 26-27 in conjunction with AFS Cast Expo. SFSA will bring all the submitted axes to Atlanta.

What is the deadline for SFSA to receive the axes?
April 8 as the deadline for us to receive the axe.

How will the axes be performance tested?
Chopping, but… chopping may combine both a weapon test and a sharpness test.

What materials will the axe be tested on?
A viking axe was to be a general purpose tool, capable around the farm or shop and in battle. Your axe should be able to be effective in battle against armor like stiff leather, mild steel, etc. It should also be able to retain its sharpness and be able to cut wood, meat, rope, etc. We expect to do a durability test followed by a sharpness test.

What are the deciding factors for a winning entry?
We are planning to offer two top prizes, one on the performance and the other on the engineering.

Can the same team win both main prizes?

Submit your question to